Korean Woman is First Atop All 8,000ers

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Clip from live television broadcast of Oh Eun-sun summiting Annapurna for her 14th 8,000-meter peak.

Korean Woman is First Atop All 8,000ers

Oh Eun-sun from Korea has summited Annapurna in Nepal, her 14th 8,000-meter peak. The 44-year-old woman topped out on the 8,091-meter (26,545-foot) peak around 3 p.m., along with three Sherpas and two TV cameramen, who filmed the final ascent live for Korean TV.

With her Annapurna ascent, Oh becomes the first woman to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks. The feat, first achieved in 1986 by Reinhold Messner, has been completed by 19 men, including Ed Viesturs, the sole American on the list.

Oh achieved her first success on an 8,000er in 1997. Heavily sponsored and highly determined, she climbed an astounding eight 8,000-meter peaks in two years (2008–’09) to rocket up the list of women attempting all of the 8,000ers. Oh has climbed all of the peaks in traditional expedition style, with liberal use of fixed ropes, Sherpa support, and bottled oxygen on the higher peaks.

As Oh neared the top of Annapurna this week, doubts about her 2009 ascent of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, resurfaced in numerous stories throughout the world. Oh’s sponsors retorted that such critiques are rooted in the rivalry to be the first woman atop all of the 8,000ers.

The Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban summited Annapurna earlier this month for her 13th 8,000-meter peak, and is now in Tibet to make another attempt on Shishapangma, the final summit on her list. Austria’s Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner has bagged 12 8,000ers and is attempting the north side of Everest, without supplementary oxygen, this spring.

During the same big, multinational push in which Oh summited Annapurna, Polish climber Piotr Pustelnik also reached the top and claimed his 14th 8,000-meter peak, bringing the total number of climbers completing this quest to 21.

Date of Ascent: April 27, 2010

Sources: Explorers Web, AFP, BBC.co.uk, Desnivel.es